Arts & Entertainment
2 min

New gay bar set to open in Ottawa

The Flamingo takes over space at Elgin and Gladstone

Drag Queen, Steve Andrade as Cher appearing at the Flamingo Bar Credit: Courtesy of Flamingo Bar

Think cabaret. Think cocktails.

At the end of January, a new gay club in Ottawa will flash its tail feathers, according to Sebastien Provost.

Provost is one of three producers — along with Chris Murray and Doug Muir — who have worked for the past three months preparing for the debut of the Flamingo on Jan 28.

The bar has the financial backing of Ottawa entertainment guru Aydin Kharaghani, of York Entertainment. York Entertainment is one of the city’s club powerhouses, with a stable of nightclubs that includes The Cabin, The Drink and On Tap in the Byward Market.

The Flamingo marks Kharaghani’s first foray into gay clubs.

“The idea for the Flamingo came from one of my visits to Montreal, my hometown, where I saw the variety of entertainment that was available to gays there. I realized that gays in Ottawa did not have the same kinds of options, so I decided to partner with people who knew the community and create a bar experience like no other in the city,” writes Kharaghani in an email.

Kharaghani approached Provost, Murray and Muir in November 2010 and offered them roles in the Flamingo. As producers they helped conceptualize the bar’s theme and will program events on each of the four days a week that the Flamingo will be open.

“What we are most proud of is that we are doing things differently. We want to have a program that appeals to a broad audience,” says Provost. “We have put a lot of time and a lot of thought into it, and we will be bringing in regional, international and local talent — something every night.”

The programming runs the gamut, from dance to live acoustic music. Each producer has his own night. Provost was tapped for Flamingo Live on Fridays, where, he says, the club will turn into a jazz lounge, echoing the main concept behind the bar.

“We wanted to bring back, not only a club or a bar but more of a lounge place,” says Provost.

Provost thinks Ottawa is ready for a new scene. He feels that no gay club has been able to fill the gap left by the demise of Icon in 2004.

“I think that when Icon closed down there was a sense of loss in the city,” he says. “That’s what we are trying, in essence, to capture — a place to call home for everybody: have some dancing, lounge and bring back the show.”

It’s certainly a gamble, and the Flamingo is betting big. Among the plans? A boys’ night on Thursdays, which will compete directly with The Lookout’s long-running Thirsty Boy Thursdays.

The Flamingo will be situated at the corner of Elgin St and Gladstone Ave, in a space that has seen many bars open and close over the years. But for Provost, the location’s hit-and-miss history is not a problem.

“It was never done gay,” says Provost. “I think there are a million straight bars in town and so there is a lot of competition there. I think that when you are opening something such as we are, competition shrinks. I think Ottawa is really craving something new, and we are going to do things differently.”

Provost promises that guests will leave the club wanting to come back for more. He believes that success will rest on two core factors: excellent service and the experience.

“You are going to have a different experience every time you come into the bar because of the way it is going to look,” says Provost. “There will always be something stimulating happening there.”